Friday, 29 April 2011

Ch 28: Don't Look Back In Anger

Gene was sitting back at the flat slurping his builder’s tea slowly, deep in thought.

“Penny for them?”

Sister Mary Magdalene popped her head round the door of the kitchen.

“Oh…Sister Maggie, you really don’t want to know!” Gene smiled at the nun. He really did like her, a lot. She had a beautiful magical quality, even if he didn’t know whether to trust her . In fact he didn’t know if he could trust anybody any more….only himself. And he had to do that, if he wanted Alex. Alex….oh yes…he was thinking about her right now, and what he was going to do to her when he got her in his arms….no…he couldn’t reveal his thoughts to Maggie!

“Oh, nothing…just a bit bored that’s all.”

“Not working today Gene?” Father Daniel appeared carrying a basket full of washing which he started to load into the washing machine.

“You could always help me out in the charity shop. Gene. The old ladies would love you.”

Gene smiled. “No thanks, Maggie. I do have a few fish to fry…”

The nun smiled serenely. “Well I’d best be off to open up.”

“What you up to today, Danny Boy?” Gene expected an answer similar to the Sister’s, some do-gooding religious job.

“Actually Gene, for once not much. Why, what do you fancy?”

Gene thought for a few seconds, then grabbed the morning paper. Turning to the Sun’s back pages he looked at the Sport.

“Let’s go to the match! At Maine Road. That’s it. That’s what I want, need , to do”

“The match? Are you sure Gene, would you not rather go for a few drinks…or”

“No. I want to go and see my beloved team, Manchester City, play, in all their glory.”

“Even if it means going in my Noddy Smart-Car?” Danny teased.

“Even if it does.” Gene laughed. He looked at Danny, thinking was he gay? He did have a bit of a feminine side sometimes. Who knows.

Gene’s mood was lifted and his spirits were high as Danny drove them both along Princess Parkway towards the City ground. Danny had produced two team scarfs, and Gene was glad. According to Gene’s reckoning it was probably around September and the weather was a little chilly. It would soon be winter, and the dark nights would be drawing in. Yet even this didn’t depress Gene. He was counting the days now until the following Spring and that Wedding. He had a goal. Something to work on.

As they arrived at Gene’s other idea of Heaven, Maine Road, he felt elated. It had been so long since he had been there. It never changed. He was excited and thrilled and as he and Danny parked up and joined the crowds of supporters all making their way towards the stadium. There was a smell of hot-dogs in the air, and for a moment he felt slightly sad, especially when he saw a child, a little girl, not unlike Maggie. What the hell had had happened to that kid. To just disappear like that from the train? He chided himself, and as Danny handed him a hot-dog on a bun, wish lashings of mustard, onions and tomato sauce he dismissed all depressive thoughts. Gene Hunt was at Maine Road, and in a few months time he would be reunited with Bolly. Nothing could make him depressed, or angry today. Nothing.

Danny went on ahead to the stadium, if he could get seats he would though Gene didn’t mind standing, not in this, his own house of God.

“I’m just going to take a slash first, all that tea!” he winked at Danny.

It was as he was coming out of the toilets, near the tunnel, two men bumped into him. He instantly recognised them. Gary Flitcroft, and Nicky Summerbee, two of the City players, clad in their kit, in an agitated state.

“Oh Gene! Gene. Thank God you’re here. We’re missing a player. Get your kit on..Gene, we need you to save the day!” They ushered Gene into the player’s changing room before Gene could say Franny Lee and had his own kit off, and on.

“Just do your stuff, Gene, you’re the Manc Lion.”

The crowd roared as the players came onto the pitch against rivals, Coventry City. Gene was to be playing centre-forward. On the attack. It had been a long time since he had kicked a ball, he might have kicked a few heads of criminals in, but hadn’t played football in ages. Yet he took to it like a duck to water, like riding a bike. Flitcroft scored after 22 minutes. Then Coventry equalled. Before long half time had arrived. Gene just couldn’t quite take it all in. No doubt Danny would have realised what he was up to! He looked for him but it was impossible to see him in the crowds. Back on the pitch the match went on. And that’s when it all suddenly started to go wrong. Coventry scored again. And again. Jesus. This wasn’t good. What started out as a fun thing was turning into a nightmare. The pressure was on. The players were shouting, looking to Gene to save them. He needed to score. Yet he was getting tired. He was hot. He felt weary. For a second he looked up at the crowds. It was a mistake. He couldn’t take his eyes of the ball. Not for one milli-second.

“Gene!” The crowds roared. And chanted.

“Gene. Gene. Gene”

It was up to him. He had to save the day.

Suddenly the crowd fell silent. He heard a whistle blow. Somewhere. Was that it? Was the match over. He looked up and saw the players still playing.

“Gene!”

That voice. Alex. He looked up at the crowds, and then towards the tunnel, and he saw a familiar figure. Alex.

He ran, off the pitch and down towards the tunnel. Ignoring the roar of the crowds, the shouts. He ran and ran. The figure disappeared.

On he ran, in his football kit, huffing and puffing, coming out of the other side of the tunnel into the streets around the stadium.

“Alex. Bolly. God, where are you. Don’t do this to me again!”

There were a lot of cars parked and Gene weaved in and out, running through the side streets. Yet there was nobody around. Suddenly he turned another corner. He spotted a young WPC chatting to a gang of lads. He heard one of them shouting. He moved a little closer. A coloured guy suddenly started prodding the policewoman in the chest. Things looked a little heated. Two of the lads ran off in the direction of the shops whilst one remained. Gene sensed trouble. Danger. He approached them quietly. The policewoman had her back to him.

“Is he bothering you love?”

She turned round. “Jesus. Shaz!” His mind whizzed. As if it wasn’t already bad enough, yet he didn’t have time to think anything further as he saw the coloured guy produce a large screwdriver.

“Whoa, back off pal. Now. I am a copper”.

“Yeah?” The guy looked him up and down. Drug deaer now doubt or something dodgy.

“And I’m the Pope” he replied, hard faced. “go on then, you ain’t got the balls.”

This was like a red rag to a bull. Gene was raging.

From the stadium Gene could hear the crowds roaring and cheering. A goal, no less. But which side? Yet that wasn’t his imminent problem. This was. He realised why he was here. It was his duty to save the Plonk . Just as he had saved Carling, and Skelton. It was all part of the plan. With a swift left-kick he kicked the screw driver out of the youth’s hand and it felt to the ground landing in the gutter by the car.

He grabbed the black guy by the scruff of his neck and pinned him down to the ground, and started to give him a good kicking.

“Gene. No…don’t Gene. Please. Don’t do that.” Shaz Grainger cried out.

“He deserves it, the bastard, for what he did to you. I will kick the living daylights out of him. “

“No Gene. Curb your anger now. I am OK. Don’t you see. He hasn’t stabbed me. He’s not going to. Not now. It will only cause trouble. People remember the riots round here, back in the 80s. Gene. Leave it. Let him go, or give him to one of the others to deal with. I will radio for backup.”.

Yet Gene was so angry. He kept on kicking and kicking, like he kicking the football .

“Gene stop!”

The youth lay still on the ground, blood beginning to ooze from the side of his head. He wasn’t dead, yet if Gene continued, he soon would be.

“Gene, please” Shaz placed a hand on his arm.

From inside the stadium a whistle blew again, and Gene knew it was over. One City fan ran past him, eager to get out of the stadium.

“What’s the score pal?” Gene shouted, knowing deep in his heart what the answer might be.

“Wankers mate, we lost . It was crap. Stupid tosser of a player did a runner half way through , we didn’t stand a chance”.

Gene could see crowds starting to spill out. Maybe there would be more trouble, he was certainly in the mood for violence for and for giving somebody else a good beating, anybody, it didn’t matter who. How dare this little toe-rag on the floor in front of him cause him to ruin his day, and what could have been his moment of glory. To score a winning goal for his beloved team. Suddenly he felt drained. He hit his fist against the brick wall where Shaz was standing, and wished he hadn’t, cutting his knuckles, crying out with the pain.

“Bastard, Bastard, Bloody Bastard. Shaz. For crying out loud I can’t take any bloody more.” He looked up at her face. She really was quite pretty in her own way, not like his Alex, but cute. Maybe she could get that promotion after all.

“Gene. Please. Stay calm. You are almost there. What will be, will be, and if it’s meant to happen it will. You did well today, in there, and….and here. Thank you. Take it in your stride, rejoice at what you have just done. Don’t look back in anger. Look forward, your future is bright. You know it is.”

“Bright. God Shaz, I thought I was on a winning streak…and tonight…there would have been a Blue moon shining over my City, if only….”

“Gene, don’t stop. You have done what you had to do. Now go, back to where you were to continue your journey. Believe me, Gene, you are almost there. “


And she reached over and kissed him on the cheek. She turned and smiled, that big beaming smile

“I gotta go. I got a date later with Chris. We’re going to the pictures.” She suddenly glanced at somebody behind Gene.

“Alright Darlin’. I like a woman in uniform. Fancy a drink?” one spoke out in a strong Manchester accent.

“She don’t want you, Liam you knob, she want’s a real man, like me. Hey baby, how bout Uncle Noel take’s you out down the Hacienda”.

Gene was about to start another punch up

“The only person being taking out pal is you to, by me if you don’t bugger off”

“oooh Get you. Like I’m scared “ the one called Noel tormented Gene.

“Ignore them, it’s only the Gallagher brothers. They’re pretty harmless”

He turned to look at the crowds now which were parading towards the main road and onto the Parkway. The parked cars were starting to move away, and he watched Volvo estates drive away, he realised he was back in 1995, or was it 96. He couldn’t quite remember.

“Oh and Gene….look up, there’s your blue moon”

Gene looked up at the sky, which had darkened. There was a large blue moon beaming down, and about a million stars….and as he watched the stars he suddenly heard a rushing in his ears. And voices,…lots of voices..like he was in crowded pub…..

He looked back to Shaz. Only she was gone. Where? Somewhere …swept along by the crowds…and then the street started spinning, round and round and he was lying on his back, on the ground in the stadium, only it wasn’t his beloved Maine Road, but another bigger, more modern stadium , and he was surrounded by people staring down at him, shouting his name.

“Gene. Gene. Gene”

The faces of Ray, Chris Skelton, Shaz, Viv, all those familiar faces, he missed them so much. They were calling to him, crying out to him,

“Hang in there, Gene. You’re nearly there. Don’t give up now.”

And he heard singing. A band, some kind of a rock concert maybe. He wasn’t sure but somebody was singing about some wonder wall or something and then he looked up again and saw the stars, the Blue Moon, and Alex’s face smiling down at him before he blacked out and sunk into the darkness.

Ch 27: Better the Devil You Know

You just couldn’t make it up, Gene thought as he slammed the phone down on the desk. A week he had been back on the job and all he had done was answer calls for lost property, dogs left on buses and cats up trees. Gene Hunt - Bobby on the beat. Laughable.

And as for Colin Raimes - he of Manchester 1973 and Sam Tyler’s era, what was all that about? He had done some disappearing act the day after he’d put Gene back on the job and apart from ringing him up every other day with orders, Gene had seen neither sight nor sound of him.

Gene looked at the battered clock on the wall. Six fifty-five. God he would die of boredom if something juicy didn’t come in soon. Still it was marginally better than being back at the Refuge with Danny Boy and his side-kick. Lovely as Mary was, there something rather bizarre about her too…

The phone rang breaking the silence.

“Hunt”.

“Ah Gene. Good to see you still there not knocking off early” It was Raimes.

“I need you to get into town. Deansgate. Something’s kicking off at one of the hotels. We need backup.”

About time thought Gene. Something meaty, a bit of violence thrown in. He put the phone, rubbing his hands with glee.

Firing up the one police car in the car park, he started to make his way into town. Jesus, the traffic was bad…what was going on. He honked the horn at a car in front…”Morons!” he shouted. “Wanker!” the four youths in it cried back. Right, that does it, Gene thought “Siren goes on!” He made his way through the traffic towards the Mancunian Way only to find it was closed for maintenance and roadworks. Bloody hell, he’d have to go the long way round. He made his way off the slip road and under the bridge along the back of the motorway. It didn’t look the same, not like it had in 73. Buildings had shot up. In fact it was almost unrecognisable. Gene was busy looking around, so busy that he didn’t see the figure step out off the kerb and into the road, into the path of his car. Bang.

“What the fuck?” Gene got out. He glanced around, noticing firstly he was on Satchmore Road. A shiver went down his spine. He turned to look at the figure lying in the road. It was a man. His eyes were closed, his face grey, a colour that matched his hair. His glasses had got knocked off in the accident. Gene felt the man’s wrist. Thank God, there was pulse. He leaned over the body, moving aside the tan raincoat the man was wearing, and put his ear to his chest. Yes, he was definitely breathing. Gene went to retrieve the spectacles, and a hand suddenly gripped his wrist very tightly.

The other hand grabbed the glasses out of Gene’s hand and put them. Gene looked down in horror.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, I am not dead yet Gene!”.

“You!”

The grip tightened on Gene’s wrist as he tried to get up, but it was stronger than Gene’s, ten times stronger, and he felt himself weaken as he was dragged to his feet and forced into the driver’s seat, his abducter locking the doors.

“Now just shut up and drive to that Hotel, Gene. You and I need to have a little chat!” Jim Keats demanded.

They drove the short distance in silence. Gene’s brain was all over the place. The last person he had expected to see was Keats. Damn, damn, damn. What did this mean? Was this it….? Had his time come? So soon?

Gene pulled up along Deansgate. Should he make a run for it now? He could, he had his shooter. Yet Keats didn’t give him a chance, producing his own revolver.

“No funny business now Geno. We need to talk. In there “ He motioned to the hotel they were parked outside, all the while the gun held discreetly in position.

The two men walked into the foyer of the Hotel, a hotel Gene didn’t recognise. “What is this place?” he finally asked.

“The Hilton, Gene. Only the best for you.”. Keats pushed him across to the lifts, pressing the button.

“Get in”.

Gene stared back. Beads of sweat dripped from his brow. His life started to flash before him, faces swam in front, Bolly, Ray, Shaz, Chris, Nelson, Viv, Danny, Mary, that cute little kid, Maggie…. He froze. Keats took hold of his shoulders, he resisted and tried to fight back, but Keats was strong and pushed him backwards and he fell into the lift. The doors closed. Christ, he couldn’t breathe.

Slumped against the walls, he watched as Jim Keats pressed the buttons and the lift started to move upwards, without stopping. It seemed to go on and on forever, never-ending, just like all this crap he was going through. His head was spinning. Was Keats going to shoot him? Send him on his way? He looked at Keats. He had certainly aged. His hair was grey, he had a few wrinkles here and there.

After a while the lift came to a bumpy halt.

“Get up, and get out, now!” Keats waved the end of the pistol. Gene staggered and made his way out of the lift, not before noticing the floor was number 47.

Where in God’s name was he? On his way to Heaven in a lift with the devil himself? What buildings in Britain were that tall? Don’t say he had travelled to the states or something now, for the final leg of his journey?

Keats grabbed him by the arm again and pulled him along towards another door.

“I’m sorry Gene. We could have stopped a little lower down if you were feeling peckish, and grabbed a bite in Cloud 23” Keats said sarcastically.

“Cloud 23? More like Cloud Cuckoo, what the hell is going on?”

Keats didn’t speak but opened a door and pushed Gene through it. They were both outside, on the roof. Gene looked around. The rooftop of the Hilton Hotel. He peered across to the edge. Forty Seven floors up? Bleedin’ Hell. Flashbacks of Tyler sprung to mind. So this was the way it was going to be.

“Go have a look over the edge, Gene. It’s a nice view. You can see for miles”.

Gene wasn’t ready to go anywhere. He remained firmly routed to the spot. Yet he needed to plan his attack. He didn’t want to provoke Keats any more, he could do anything, yet neither was he ready to join the laughing gang in the sky, or wherever they were. Not before he had found Alex.

It was if Keats had read his mind.

“You’re so close, Gene Hunt. So close. “ He let out a laugh, that evil cackling laugh.

Gene went to speak but Keats beat him to it.

“What do you want to do now Gene? You have a couple of choices. Do you want to stay here with those two clowns back at the Refuge? Is that what you want? To remain here in another lala land? Or maybe just finish yourself off now, like Mr Tyler did…Oh, or did he? Was his death all a fake Gene? What really happened to Sammy Boy? Do you know? Do I know? I know somebody who probably does…..the dear lovely Alex. Ah yes , Alex Drake. Love of your life. Do you still want her so badly Gene? So badly that your guts ache?”

Gene remained silent. Keats moved closer, grabbing Gene by the collar of his overcoat with one hand, and pointing the gun to his head.

“Answer me!.”

Still Gene would not speak.

“I said, fucking answer me!”

“Yes. I do.”

“Speak up I didn’t quite hear you”.

“I said YES!” Gene shouted.

“Ok, no need to deafen me. Just how badly do you want her Gene? Shall I tell you? Huh? Sit there and shut up while Uncle Jim speaks. You want her like you have wanted no other woman in your life. Don’t you? She is the reason you are still around here. Her blood flows through your veins, she haunts your dreams at night. She is there, all around you 24/7. Oh you say you want her. Maybe you do. But just HOW badly Gene? Are you kidding yourself? I mean let’s face it.. You didn’t exactly treat her right when you and she were together. You treated her almost like the prostitute you first thought she was. Leering, letching. Did you just want to get her in the sack? Have your way? Then dump her…like most men do once they have what they want? But then, Gene,……you never did get her into bed did you. Ha ha ha…..what’s your problem? You slacking? Your charm didn’t work on her? Maybe she saw right through you….for what you were…a coward, all talk and no action…You don‘t deserve her. She is too good for you..and she‘ll take no crap. She is no doormat, Gene, she is a confident woman who knows what she wants. Has she got you by the balls Gene? That‘s if you‘ve got any..”

“Shut the fuck up!” Gene tried to push Keats away, yet the arm gripped him tighter, and Keat clicked the revolver. Gene started to sweat again as he felt Keat’s hot breath on his face. He smelt of fried onions, and he wanted to puke.

Yet there was no silencing Keats. He continued,

“Oh Gene, touched a nerve have I? what’s up. You not all man? Couldn’t you get it up? Alex Drake wanted a real man.”

“You’re so bloody anal Jimbo”. Gene snarled back.

“Anal. Ah…now…..there’s an interesting word….maybe the Gene Genie is really a variation on your true name…Jean Jeannie? Huh? A back-door man…”

“I ain’t no raving arse-bandit”.

“No Gene? Well you seem to spend an awful lot of time these days around the red-light area of Manchester, and also the gay bars. You have been seen.”

“I have a job to do. It’s part of my beat now. The Gay Village and all…”

“Oh yes…quite the little cover up. You know sometime’s even the most manly man can be a closet gay you know….I mean let’s look at all those that came out…Rock Hudson, Freddie Mercury, ..”

“I told you I ain’t no poof. “

“Well you need to prove it Gene. And yes, you do still have a job to do. It’s by no means finished just yet. And as for Alex. Well she is one classy lady. Very sensual, and sexual, a truly hot catch for any man. And believe me Gene, there’s a hell of a lot of men want her, and will do anything to try and get her. What about you Gene? Do you want to let her get away? Do you mind seeing her with another man, in bed, kissing, caressing all those places you say you want, spending the rest of their lives with her….Are you going to sit back like some namby pamby wuss and let that happen? Lovely, dear sweet Alex. She is waiting for you Gene. But time is running out. You do know that? She is waiting, patiently for you to make a move, show your true colours….only you’re not trying hard enough, are you, really Gene. In fact you are pissing her about aren’t you? Oh I know how you lusted after that redhead at the Black Cat Club. By God you have even eyed up that Nun. What kind of man are you Gene, a man, or a mouse. Put your money where your mouth is. The time has come. You have to make a choice and do something, else you remain forever a sad little man.”

There was a silence.

“Have you quite finished?”

“Actually, no. “ Keats continued, suddenly releasing his grip on Gene he produced a white envelope from his pocket.

“You have some choices to make. (a) You can take the cowards way out right now. End it. Walk over the edge here. I’ll give you a friendly shove if you like, help you on your way.

or

(b) You can stay put with your new little friends, the God Squad back at the Refuge, going nowhere, running in circles, chasing rainbows.”


“Well, better the Devil you know..” Gene remarked.

“Ah, that’s my point Gene…which leads me nicely to option C. Given you see me as the Devil in disguise, here is what I have to offer. “

Keats handed Gene the envelope. “Take it”.

Gene was a little reluctant thinking it may be some kind of trick.

“Open it up, go on”.

Gene reluctantly opened the sealed envelope and produced a card, it appeared to be some kind of invitation.

“What the hell is this? A fucking Wedding invitation?!”

“Ah, Gene not just ANY Wedding though.. No. The Royal Wedding of year! It is to take place in London, in a couple of months time. Imagine it Gene Hunt, Guest at such a dignified affair. I can see you in a morning suit complete with top and tails, Alex Drake on your arm, looking every inch your regal Princess.”

“I don’t understand.”.

“Gene. See the date. Surely. A bit more time travelling, surely you can manage that….right up to the present day. Bang. 2011. Once you get there, you’ll get Alex.”

“Can’t I go now?” Gene looked back at Keats, still wondering what this cryptic puzzle was all about. Was it a trick, or was he to believed.

“No Gene, it’s not time. It’s going to take some planning…the wedding of the Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton…”

“Prince William. No sorry it’s Charles.”

“Gene, shut up. It will be 2011. Remember, once the team had gone, you ended up in 97, the year Princess Diana died. It’s her son’s marriage. I think it would be an apt moment for King Gene to meet his future Queen, don’t you, a rather fitting occasion”.

Gene fidgeted with the card in his hand. Could he trust Keats on this one? It certainly was very tempting. Better the devil you know..? He put his head in his hands, listening to Keats

“Think about it Gene, long and hard. This isn’t a dress rehearsal no more. This is your last chance. Don’t blow it. If you do, Alex will be lost to you , out of reach, and gone forever. Prove it to her, to yourself Gene. Do it. Be a man”.

Gene looked up. Keats was gone. No-where to be seen. He looked around him, shivering. The evening sun had gone in. Dark clouds loomed overhead. Apprehensively he moved around, all the while keeping his wits about him in case Keats should jump out . Tentaively he moved slower towards the edge of building, and glanced over. Jesus Christ! So that’s what 47 floors up looked like. Gene could see a crowd gathering down below. Why? What had happened? Good God, had Jim Keats jumped? Gene felt dizzy, and sick, and moved away, before he tipped over the edge himself.

Putting the envelope and card safely in his pocket he made his way back into the hotel towards the lifts. There was nobody around. He got in the lift and pressed the button. Suddenly, from somewhere a feeling of elation came over him. He took the card out of his pocket again. He looked at the fancy writing on the invitation…..it read

“Gene Hunt and Guest, Alex Drake…are invited to attend the wedding ceremony….”

He hadn’t noticed that before. His name, and Bolly’s was handwritten in an elegant hand.

He brought the invitation to his lips and kissed it. Mwah. It was his passport to paradise. He would go. He would prove the world, and himself, he was a man, a real man, who wanted his woman, despite any spats they had had in he past, despite everything they had gone through, and all the crap he was suffering. He wanted her so badly, more than he had ever wanted anything. She was the one. He was her man. And he would stop at nothing, nothing to get her.

He whistled a little tune to himself, and found he felt a little peckish. He pressed the button on the lift door and decided to stop at the restaurant on the 23rd floor, suitably named Cloud 23. He walked out and went across to the bar ordering himself a large scotch, and then glanced out the large glass windows across the city from a much safer view point. Cloud 23, never mind that, he was on bloody Cloud 9, he was soaring high and would soon be on his way to heaven to me is angel, his true love, Alex Bollyknickers Drake, and boy he was going to get her straight into bed no messing about, and give her a damn good shag. Who knows he might even marry her one day..Alex Hunt…mmm that had a nice ring to it. Meanwhile he was starving and ordered a large steak with chips and side salad. The waitress, a tasty young thing in high stillettos laid his fayre before him. He devoured it rapidly. His appetite was huge.

“Would Sir like afters?” The waitress battered her eyelashes at him . Gene resisted the urge to take the pretty waitress up on her offer.

“Unless you got any Garibaldis I think I’ll pass this time love, although I wouldn’t mind a nice cup of Earl Grey to finish off.”

He smiled to himself. Gene Hunt. Drinking puff tea. Well he had best get used to it, especially if one was going to be moving in Royal circles, with the Elite, and Gentry.

“Arise Sir Gene” Gene Hunt OBE, oh the fairytale was only just beginning…..